By BEN LEDBETTER
GREENVILLE, N.C. — There are state and federal programs that can aid citizens in paying for necessities although the federal eviction moratorium ended on Aug. 26 when the Supreme Court ruled to end the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's program.
"The federal eviction moratorium was a lifeline for millions of families, the last remaining federal protection keeping them safely and stably housed throughout the pandemic," said National Low Income Housing Coalition President and CEO Diane Yentel in a statement. "The tragic, consequential, and entirely avoidable outcome of this ruling will be millions of people losing their homes this fall and winter, just as the delta variant ravages communities and lives."
However, one eastern North Carolina county is stepping in to fill part of that need by offering assistance with rent and utility payments.
According to a news release from Pitt County, its department of social services received approval from the state to help more tenants who are currently behind on rent because of the pandemic. Some tenants will now be eligible even if they have not received an eviction notice.
Eligible tenants must have received an eviction notice from the sheriff's office. Tenants can also qualify for the program if they have paid their previous month's rent, but are still behind in payments from earlier in the pandemic.
The program's expansion offers up to six months of rental assistance to residents that rent apartments, mobile homes or mobile home lots. Income requirements vary according to the people in the household, but two people must have had a monthly income of $3,558 or less, and four must have had a total of $4,446 or less. The tenant's rent payment difficulty must be due to the pandemic and can include job loss, reduced hours, medical expenses, quarantine requirements or caring for other family members. Also, the landlord and tenant must be willing to sign a new lease or extend the current one.
The county is also offering assistance with paying utilities. One of the requirements is for the utilities to be shut off or at least two weeks past due. The pandemic must be the cause of a customer's payment difficulty.
Those in the Pitt County seat have also had access to additional programs.
Greenville city government previously had its rental assistance program that helped nearly 200 applicants with up to three months of assistance. It ended on July 30, 2021.
For small business owners in Greenville, they can also apply for assistance funded from Community Development Block Grant money. Eligible businesses could receive grants up to $15,000. The businesses must be for-profit and located in the Greenville city limits. They must have had $1 million or less in gross revenue in 2020 and have 50 or fewer employees that receive W-2 tax forms. Businesses must have been in operation in Greenville on or before Jan. 1, 2020. They must be in compliance with all state and local regulations.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Pitt County's population is 170,243 with an estimated 81,246 housing units. Nearly 90 percent have a computer in the home while approximately 80 percent have a broadband subscription.
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